“I Love My Children I Hate My Life.” That’s the title of a recent cover story in New York Magazine , written by Jennifer Senior. I learned about it through a Today Show segment in which the author was interviewed. I haven’t been able to get the question out of my mind since.
I went online and read the article, which is rather long but very interesting. Senior explores the question, “Does having kids make you happy?” She reports on all kinds of research on the subject, interspersed with personal experiences with her own 2 ½ year old and those of friends. Is parenting really “all joy but no fun” as one of her friends described it?
My first, kind of knee-jerk reaction was “Oh no, parenting can actually be a lot of fun. And I don’t think I hated my life when my kids were little.” (Of course I miss those days now! You will, too, one day!) But then I remembered some of my real-life-as-a-mom days. Days during my “three kids 5 and under living at the end of a dead-end street with Woody never home” era. Well . . . maybe I did hate my life from time to time. At least moments of my life.
Like when my only moments in days (or so it seemed) away from the kids were when I walked, v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y, down my driveway to get the mail while they were all safely napping or “resting” at the same time. Or when one was having a tantrum, the other in his “whining chair,” and the baby screaming her head off. Or when I’d flip on the news occasionally for a minute or two just to make sure the outside world was still there.
The interview and the article also reminded me of a conversation I had with two moms in Pennsylvania a while back. “How did you handle the daily boredom?’ they asked. “Sometimes I think that if I have to play Candyland one more time or read Goodnight Moon again for the hundredth time today, I am going to lose my mind!"
Sound familiar? I bet just about every mom can identify. Parenting is such a roller-coaster ride, isn’t it? It jerks you around like almost nothing else in life. The highs are so high and the lows can be so low.
That’s why we need each other, isn’t it? And God! I think it’s a major reason why Mom to Mom exists. To help us keep our balance, to help us hold on for the wild ride of being a mom.
It does help, doesn’t it, to know other moms have felt the same ambivalence you feel? Loving their kids beyond all words one minute and ready to trade them in the next! And it helps to be reminded that there’s a bigger picture out there. That you won’t be sleep deprived forever—really, trust me. That your two-year-old tantrum queen could actually one day turn out to be one of your best friends (I know, that’s a long way off—but I’ve seen it happen!) That your strong-willed teen may actually grow up to one day do amazing things for God.
I’d love to know how some of you feel when asked the question: “Do you love your kids but hate your life?” It may depend on how old your kids are. Or how many you have. Or how many days it is till school starts in your area. Or how many weeks it’s been since your Mom to Mom group met! Truthfully, it may depend on what hour of the day the question is asked—right?
Because I suspect we’ve all felt that way from time to time. Even while, at the same time insisting we wouldn’t trade being a mom for any other life in the world!